Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Every Morning ~ Welcoming 2014



I'm the type of person who adores new beginnings. I love changing the calendar to a new month, turning to a fresh page in my planner, starting up a new blog, creating a list of goals for a new year. (Of course, I'm also the type of person who likes my books to be in neat, perfectly aligned stacks, and who straightens up my bed covers after someone's done sitting on the bed...) So I take the start of a new year rather seriously.

God blessed me tremendously in 2013 with the friendships and support necessary to finish writing my second manuscript, publish my first novel in both e-book and paperback formats, edit my first manuscript, officially start up my freelance editing & publicity business with actual clients, obtain my driver's license, and make my first solo road trip. But while it was a year full of wonderful joys, it was also a year full of very painful things: my grandpa's declining health (including a prolonged stay at the hospital and in rehab), stressful and hurtful family issues, and the loss of my godfather and my grandma.

To be honest, 2014 feels a little scary. We're selling my grandparents' house, which has been my "second home" since childhood. My grandpa might go to a home where he can get 24/7 professional care and assistance. I agreed to look for part-time work outside of the house to supplement my income for my business and writing, and also to see the world outside of my bedroom (an exciting but frightening prospect!). I have some happy publishing goals which I would love to meet, but otherwise, I'm just not sure what the year ahead will bring. I'm worried that a lot will change, and that the changes will continue to be hard for all of us. But I'm also worried that a lot won't change, because I realize that changes do need to be made, in my own life and for my family.

So here I am, at the threshold of a new year. While I've prepared some things - made a list of publishing goals, put up the new calendar, bought a 2014 planner, etc. - I feel like there are a lot more things I could have done to get myself ready to face the coming days. Yet the unknown remains. The difficult issues still have to be dealt with; they don't go away when the old year passes.

I can't look at the whole year ahead. It's too much pressure. While I appreciate the magnitude of the "newness," I need the mercy of new beginnings in a smaller size...


And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity. And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord: remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:17-23

God's mercies, His compassions, are new every morning. Every morning. 

I'll always love a new month, a new year. And I need a big-picture perspective - but a year isn't it. I need a perspective as big as eternity: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever (Psalm 23:6). But in that, I also need a perspective as small as a day, a moment, knowing that God is with me through every step. 

My favorite devotional book (Safe in the Shepherd's Arms: Hope and Encouragement from Psalm 23 by Max Lucado) puts it this way:

God isn't behind me, yelling, "Go!" He is ahead of me, bidding "Come!" He is in front, clearing the path, cutting the brush, showing the way. Just before the curve, he says, "Turn here." Prior to the rise, he motions, "Step up here." Standing next to the rocks, he warns, "Watch your step here." 

He leads us. He tells us what we need to know when we need to know it.
....

The discovery of David is indeed the message of Scripture - the Lord is with us. And since the Lord is near, everything is different. Everything!....

You may feel alone in the wilderness, but you are not. He is with you.

You and I are not alone in the wilderness of the year, in the crazy hills and valleys and curves of our day-to-day lives. His mercies are new every morning. I don't need to wait until the start of a new month or a new year to claim the refreshing of His mercies and grace. I don't need to feel like I've blown the whole week or the whole year if the transition was shaky or I wasn't fully prepared. Because the truth is, as many plans as I make and as many goals as I set, I just don't know what's coming. A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps (Proverbs 16:9). We have to plan ahead, yes, but we have to trust that God's will prevails, and that His will is good and holy in light of eternity. And sometimes - perhaps much of the time - we have to take one day at a time, one step at a time, and trust that God is at work.


We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.... Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16b-17

The "weight" of our hope for eternity isn't heavy. Jesus offers us a light burden (Matthew 11:30). So in the year ahead, I'll try not to take the change of the calendar too seriously. Instead, I'll continue on this all-important but grace-filled journey of trusting God's eternal perspective, and believing that He is still with me in each little step, offering new mercies every morning for the sake of His glory.

(Pictures taken at Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Summer 2013.)

14 comments:

Cathy said...

What an encouraging post. I love the quote from Max Lucado...

'God isn't behind me, yelling, "Go!" He is ahead of me, bidding "Come!" He is in front, clearing the path, cutting the brush, showing the way.'

What a great reminder and comfort to know He is ahead.

Blessings to you in this new year Amber. : )

Jillian said...

Thanks for this post, Amber. I'm looking forward to seeing what God brings to all of us this new year. Hope you have a blessed 2014!

(Oh, and I love the new blog design!)

Anonymous said...

"One day at a time, sweet Jesus..." wise words written by the late Patsy Cline. As you know, that is my motto for 2014. Anything longer is too stressful! Love you lots and lots!!!
Love,
Momma

Ganise C. said...

BEAUTIFUL! And so gracious. May the good Lord bless you, Amber! This post touched my heart and is worth several rereads. Cliché but so true : the unknown can be so scary, so confusing. But I'm learning too that what matters is to take baby steps towards Him, with arms outstretched. Bless you, my friend.

Amber Stokes said...

Cathy,

I'm so glad the post encouraged you! I think I just needed to take the time to sit and write through my worries and thoughts, you know? It's a blessing to know that others understand. :)

I love that quote, too, and the whole devotional book! There are some simple but profound encouragements in there, descriptively written. It is truly a comfort to know that God is ahead, leading us, and also walking each step with us. :)

Blessings to you, as well, and thank you for the comment!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Jillian,

You're very welcome - thank you for reading! I believe it helps me to write through things and thereby be reminded of what's truly important.

I'm looking forward to seeing what God has in store for us, as well! I hope you have a blessed year, as well, my friend!

~Amber

P.S. Thank you for the kind words about the blog design! I really liked this free background from Hot Bliggity Blog, both the color and the "Warm Winter Wishes" saying. I thought it worked well with the header pic I decided to go with - one I took in Virginia City, Nevada this past summer, actually. That's the main setting for Forget Me Not. :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Aww, Momma, you and me both! We'll take this year one step at a time, and we'll do it together. Love you lots and lots, too!!!

Love,
Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Ganise,

You are so sweet and encouraging! When I write things like this, it sometimes feels all over the place, so I'm always blessed to know that God can take our ramblings and help us reach out to one another in understanding. Thank you for taking the time to read my post and to remind me I'm not alone in feeling these things!

I love what you said here: But I'm learning too that what matters is to take baby steps towards Him, with arms outstretched. So true, and what a beautiful word picture! God bless you, as well, my friend! *Hugs*

~Amber

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

It's going to be a big year of changes it sounds like. (That was last year for me)
You're going to do awesome.
I just know it.
:)
Many blessings.

Cindy V said...

You never know, Amber . . . God might just have something truly incredible in store for you this year . . . At the end of 2014, you might just be looking back and saying it was one of your best years yet. Sometimes a leap of faith can take us farther than we ever imagined.

Amber Stokes said...

Juju,

Yes, I think so... Thank you so much for the vote of confidence and the encouragement, dear friend! Many blessings to you, as well, whatever 2014 holds! Hope you are doing well. *Hugs*

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Cindy,

Aww, I love that thought! Thank you so much for encouraging me to stay positive and to trust that God has grand plans. :)

Have a blessed new year - looking forward to hearing more about your next projects!

~Amber

Ashley said...

This was very inspiring, Amber. So glad I found this blog...

Amber Stokes said...

Ashley,

I'm so encouraged to hear that! It's inspiring to me that God can use our ramblings for good. :) And His Word is always inspiring and comforting and needed!

I'm so glad you found your way here, too. :) I checked out your blog - looks lovely! Will you be adding any follower options? Please do feel free to stop by here anytime!

~Amber